Hower family life explored in photo exhibit
|Family photos by Grace Hower Crawford, shown at left in 1906 with a camera, are on display at Hower House this summer.|
|Photo courtesy of Hower House|
|unique photo equipment on display at Hower House is this Stereo Realist camera, which produced images that could be seen in 3-D with a special viewing device.|
|Photo: Kathleen Folkerth|
Picture This: Selected Images from the Hower Collection features many candid prints from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s that include members of the family enjoying their travels and everyday life at the home on Fir Hill near what is now The University of Akron.
“This is a different exhibit for us,” said Linda Bussey, assistant director of Hower House.
She added that last year she came upon a personal photo album of Grace Hower Crawford’s that inspired the exhibit.
Bussey said Grace married Paul Findley (grandson of Akron’s Samuel Findley) in 1905 at the age of 22. The two moved to New York, but just a few months into their marriage, Findley died at age 24 of typhoid fever.
“Grace was married and widowed in the same year,” Bussey said.
Grace returned home to Akron after her husband’s death, and Bussey said evidence shows that she turned to photography in the months and years that followed, perhaps as a way to help her through a difficult time.
“We think she realized that life is short, so she started taking photos of her family, friends and loved ones,” Bussey said. “So now we have a whole different perspective on their family life from the lens of Grace Hower Crawford. You get to see a different side, more relaxed and playful and affectionate.”
Some of the photos in the exhibit are studio shots or others taken by professional photographers, but a great deal of space is given to Grace’s photos and the hand-scribbled notes she provided identifying people and events. Bussey said Grace later married John Crawford, who died in 1942.
The photos range from tintypes and daguerreotypes, some of the earliest photographic techniques, to prints made from glass negatives.
“The earliest ones are small because the enlarger was not invented yet,” Bussey said.
The display also allows viewers to see how Grace’s techniques and composition improved over the years.
In addition to the photos, the exhibit features a selection of early photographic equipment that was loaned by private collectors. A large part of the display belongs to John Darrow, of Akron.
The exhibit is up through Sept. 15. In addition, the Hower Carriage House is open for visitors on Fridays and Saturdays with its exhibit on the Hower family.
Bussey said this summer’s Ice Cream Social will take place July 15 from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger with paid adult admission. The cost includes a tour of the House and the Carriage House, as well as ice cream.
Hower House is located at 60 Fir Hill. Guided tours will take place Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 3:30 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for adults 65 and older and $2 for students and children. Group rates are available for tours for 10 or more by appointment.
Hower House was completed in 1871 by John Henry Hower, a leading Akron industrialist who was active in the milling, reaping and cereal industries. Hower and architect Jacob Snyder designed the house in the Second Empire Italianate style. The floor plan, known as the “Akron Sunday School Plan,” features rooms radiating from a large octagonal center hall. The plan was used for churches across the United States.
The 28-room mansion is capped with a mansard roof and soaring tower, and is filled with items and furnishings the Hower family collected from around the world.
Visitors also may visit the Cellar Door Store gift shop.
For more information, call 330-972-6909 or go to www.uakron.edu/howerhse.
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